City Council approves ordinance in honor of teen killed by deputies in botched sting operation

The Seattle City Council passed a Youth Rights Ordinance named after a 17-year-old who was killed in a sting operation gone wrong in 2017.

The bill, in honor of Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens, seeks to safeguard the rights of youths by connecting them to a lawyer after a law enforcement officer reads them their Miranda rights or before they can consent to a search.

The teen’s father opened up to KIRO 7 about his support of the measure and how he’s pushing forward after Gittens’ death.

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“One day at a time. I have my good days and my bad days,” said Frank Gittens.

Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens was shot eight times while running away from King County sheriff’s deputies in a botched sting operation. Neither Gittens nor his friend, whom Gittens was with that day, was involved in the crime deputies was investigating.

Though it's not easy, Frank Gittens has turned his pain into purpose.

“The purpose is to continue to move forward and help the community get better, more transparent about these things,” Gittens said.

“Children may not have the capacity to make decisions that have serious long-term impacts,” said Seattle City Council member Tammy Morales, who was one of the sponsors of the bill.

The bill prohibits officers from questioning minors without a lawyer when a Miranda warning is given. It also bans officers from requesting a search of minors unless a lawyer is provided. The exception is if police believe the information they need is necessary to protect life from an imminent threat.

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Gittens said it's important the youths know their rights.

“In their most vulnerable times, they still have rights. And the adults put in place to protect them don’t take advantage of them,” Gittens said.

Although the ordinance would not have helped his son, Gittens said he knows his son, who wanted to be a lawyer, would have supported it.

“He was a loyal friend, a loyal confidante. And if he had some type of knowledge, he wanted to pass it on to his peers. So that’s why I feel this ordinance is something that would make him smile wherever he is right now,” Gittens added.

In May, the King County Sheriff’s Office agreed to pay Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens’ family $2.25 million to settle a lawsuit. As part of the settlement, the sheriff’s office also promised to pursue a policy to require body cameras and dash cams.

The King County Council will vote on a similar bill on Tuesday.